An Artist, a Farmer and a Scientist walk into a bar …

January 29, 2018

Imagine this ….
A horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Hey! Why the long face?”

Or, a cowboy, a blond woman and a duck walk into a bar, and the bartender says, “Is this some kind of a joke?”

Or, (and this is the last one); “An Artist, a Farmer and a Scientist walk into a bar …” (You will have to make up a punch line yourself for this one.)

Although these ‘jokes’ may sound weird, they say a bit about the quirkiness of language and make us consider how some strange and even crazy situations, seem to make sense, in certain circumstances.

Here is another example, ‘A man walks into a bar and says, “I would like a scotch and water without any ice.” The bartender replies, “I’m sorry we don’t have any ice, would you like it without any frozen water instead?”

Quirkiness seemed to be in fashion when some community members from the towns of Bingara in North west NSW and Kandos in the Central west, got together last year to put together an application for an Arts Grant. The Grant was through the NSW Government’s CREATE NSW and it required a joint community application. The link between the two communities was Adam Blakester a community consultant with Starfish Initiatives in Armidale.

Adam has worked with both communities and he saw that they had a lot in common. Both were small but dynamic, both had had successes in coming up with unique projects and both had the ‘people power’ and resources to get things done.

Kandos was a former cement industry hub in NSW and in the face of the closure of the cement works and having formed the Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation they forged the ‘Cementa’ Festival and a process of fresh discovery which they called ‘Futurelands2’. In both of these events Art played an important role. Their challenge was to combine traditional aspects of their community and express them as works of art.

In Bingara, the Orange Festival, the Roxy Theatre and The Living Classroom have emerged as important agents for celebrating the combination of rural and urban living. Where Kandos had its strength in arts and artists, Bingara offered regenerative agriculture and some unique facilities.

“An Artist, a Farmer and a Scientist walk into a bar …” seemed to be just the right title for the grant application. The program is planned to take place over two years. It will begin with a Dinner and Theatrical Performance at the Roxy Theatre in Bingara on a Saturday night, yet to be finalised, in April or May 2018.

The Dinner will be very unusual, with many of the ingredients ‘foraged’ from about the local landscape. Diego Bonetto is a food forager. Originally from northern Italy, Diego has been blown away by the range and variety of edible plants to be found in the Australian landscape and has made a living supplying these to some of Sydney’s top restaurants.

The North West Theatre Company based in Bingara has offered to co-ordinate the dinner and to add to it an ‘entertainment’ in the form of a short play using the theme of the Artist, Farmer and Scientist (AFS) and their perambulations into that mythical bar. Regular NWTC Theatre goers may recall ‘Gosforth’s Fete’ from a few years ago where the play and the meal were combined to provide a lot of festive fun and feasting.

A total of nine events are being planned for the AFS program, six in Bingara, two in Kandos, and one shared by both communities. Many of the events involve artists-in-residence activities with Workshops offered to members of the community. Drawing, sculpture, photography, crafts, food and storytelling are all included. Some arts and crafts will be familiar, while some will simply be quirky.

An example of the quirky is “Alex’s Hole”. Photographic artist Alex Wisser from Kandos, will repeat the feat he achieved at Hill End several years ago. He will dig a hole in the ground, all by hand and photograph his progress. And a sizeable hole it will be. More than three metres deep and even more in diameter Alex’s Hole at Hill End was quite the whole hole as holes go, and as holes go, it went!

At Hill End, circumstances required Alex to fill in his hole. At The Living Classroom in Bingara, it is intended that the hole remains active for some time to display the nature of the soil and the subsoil, and feature the patterns and processes of plants and their root systems under the ground surface. “Alex’s Hole” will be unusual if nothing else.

The announcement of successful grants from CREATE NSW will be made shortly. Both the Bingara and the Kandos community members will then commence the detailed planning to make ‘An Artist, a Farmer and a Scientist walk into a bar …’ a feature of their cultural activities in 2018 and 2019.

Submitted by Rick Hutton – Committee representative, Bingara.